By Tafline Laylin

Though the Burj won top project of the year, a little-known Sudanese project gets top kudos for its sustainability

It may be tall, and it may be grand, but we don’t think the Burj Khalifa is worth boasting about. Even so, this towering blight on Dubai’s sustainable horizon took “project of the year” at the 3rd annual Middle East Architecture Award ceremony held in Dubai’s Park Hyatt on September 28th, 2010.

The surprise of the evening, according to, is that Saudi’s KAUST – a favorite expected to win the sustainable project of the year award – was trumped by The Salam Center in Sudan. Designed by the Italian firm Tamassociati, The Salam Centre is based in Soba, Khartoum, and comprises staff quarters for a nearby hospital that they also designed.

Materials were shipped to Khartoum in containers that were at the end of their life. Instead of shipping them back and tipping the carbon footprint scale, the firm instead chose to convert them into staff quarters along the Nile River.

90 x 20 ft shipping containers were converted into a residential building, and insulated on both the inside and the outside in order to keep the burning sun off. As a result, the rooms never reach much higher than 30 degrees celsius, thereby reducing the need for cooling.

7 x 40 ft containers were used for the canteen.

Both chilling machines and water heaters are provided by solar panels, and the firm planted 150 trees in order to offset the carbon footprint generated by importing materials for the hospital.

Architect Raul Pantaleo explained to that “the development had both practical and political benefits, reducing the need to transport empty containers while also demonstrating a commitment to sustainable architecture. He also stressed that the firm only used containers that were no longer useful for shipping.”

“A lot of similar developments use brand new containers, but ours were rusty and broken. We wanted to use containers at the end of their lives,” the architect added.

Although sustainable and comfortable despite the harsh sun, the housing units are “sleek and modern.”

More architecture news:

NY Times: Masdar City’s Just A Futuristic Playground For The Rich

Abu Dhabi Building To Achieve All Five Green Building “Pearls”

New Design Approved For Jerusalem’s Giant Glass Museum Of Tolerance

image via Mushabab Al-Murayeh